I really want to love this company, because I've gotten many wonderful seeds from them over the years and their customer service was great the only time I ever had a problem. On another occasion, they answered an email with general questions about a variety quickly and helpfully. They seem like nice people who are trying to do things the right way, but I am sick of getting their glossy, wasteful catalog full of biblical quotes. I am not a Christian, but I am a Baker Creek customer. I see a very narrow slice of human society reflected in the quotes and philosophies endorsed in the catalog. I see a lot of support from Baker Creek for diversity in seeds, but not so much for diversity in people-- or at least that is the impression I have from the divisive quotes provided in the catalog. I throw issues of "Watchtower" in my worm bin because they will decompose quickly, and I hate to see such a beautiful, magazine-quality publication hit the garbage can-- but I can't even toss it in the worm bin because of the glossy nature of the pages and the toxicity of the inks. It just won't compost.
There is no "tyranny of science." Please start labeling your seeds with species names, DTM, and zone ratings like all the other seed houses! These details are important to those of us who grow your seeds, although I understand that DTM can vary from year to year and locale to locale. Germination has been a problem for me on a few seed packs, although most sprout quickly and true, and the quantity of seed is extremely generous! I'd much rather have fresh seeds with no germination issues than an expensive-to-produce catalog that I don't even use, because I shop on your website. (The website looks good and the upgrades and changes made over the last year have been great.)
I still occasionally buy from them when I can't get something in a trade or by saving seed, but I find myself using them less and less because I just can't tolerate the Ron Paul quotes (who believes that the Civil Rights Act was a mistake, that the LA riots were caused by black people not receiving their welfare checks, that public education and the EPA should be abolished, that we have no moral obligation to care for our sick and poor, and that we should not legislate to protect our environment in an age where overwhelming scientific consensus reveals just how much we are damaging our world). There is a place for morality in business, and I hope Baker Creek finds their place sooner rather than later.
On Jul 18, 2014, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
Thank you for your feedback! On the catalog, we used recycled paper and soy inks, so they can be re-purposed by our customers for anything from starter pots to worm bins :) We are working to include the species names and the days to maturity on the seed packets that we are making now, but a lot of our seed packet designs were made several years ago, and we are updating them as we can."
As a whole, I think that the company is better than any other at offering a huge variety of heirloom seeds with a big, beautiful glossy catalog. They do a good job marketing themselves on Facebook and providing interesting and informative information through that route. I have found them to be a bit on the pricey side. I have spent literally a couple hundred dollars in seeds over the past three years and really only harvested a few green beans and some cilantro that I could have purchased at the local nursery. I did get a lot a pleasure from reading the catalogue and planning out what I was going to grow, even though nothing much was produced, despite all the expense and work. I had the opportunity to visit their store in Petaluma on several occasions when I lived there, and it was a fun and interesting experience, though pricey (they are very busy there and don't have much time to give advice to customers). I spent even more money there, on seeds that again didn't produce. Maybe I'm choosing all the wrong plants? I followed the directions. I think next time I will use the catalogue for reference and buy the seeds from a store that is a little more economical. There is another vendor on Ebay, for example that sells seeds for about 1/3 the cost and provides little plastic seed cups instead of envelopes that tend to get soggy quickly as I work with them in my garden on the Olympic Peninsula. Don't be fooled, this company wants you to believe that they are a family-run small company (with cutesy photos of little girls and babies), when this is really big business, and I'm sure they are raking it in.
On Feb 14, 2013, kevcarr59 BUda, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
Last year bought some Hill Country Heirloom Red Okra & Stewart's Zeebest Okra, but had bad luck with germination. Upon notifying Baker Creek, they replaced the seeds quickly and without any problems. The second batch of seeds hasn't been much better. I am pretty confident the problem is the seed, since I had given it to several people and they had the same results, and these people are experienced gardeners.
Tried again this January and there was only about 10% success. I have also just purchased a seedling mat, and will give these one last shot. I had seed from okra we planted and saved from 2010, and we had 100% germination, in the row next to the Baker Creek in the seed flat.
Also purchased some Cherokee Purple & Mortgage Lifter Tomato at the same time, and those seem to be doing fairly well this year.
Overall, it seems there may have been a problem with the okra seed and how they were stored. They replaced it but it was the same lot number, so I was hesitant to start with, figuring it was the same batch of seeds. The customer service was what I would expect, so there is only so much a supplier can do.
On Apr 24, 2012, Pitcom Avondale, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
Posted on March 16, 2012, updated April 24, 2012
Posted on March 14, 2012, updated March 16, 2012
Posted on March 24, 2011, updated March 14, 2012
This was my first time placing an order with this company. They have much better prices than some of the other heirloom seed companies, and the shipping costs were much more reasonable. My order came quickly, and i received a free seed pack of flowers. It was a good experience and led me to placing a second order.
On March 14th, 2012, Pitcom changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
First off I want to say that I love the seed varieties that Baker Creek offers. They always ship fast and I think they are a fantastic seed company. I have purchased over 70 different varieties of seeds in the past year. I am changing my review to neutral this year because of the bad germination rates on about half a dozen seed packs. I have had some pepper, leeks, beets and cauliflower, germinate around 15%. I've also had a couple that were 50/50. On the other hand, I 've also had packs of the same type of veggie, just different variety, germinate at near 100%. Not sure what is going on but I was not too thrilled about the low rates. I sent Baker Creek an e-mail about the situation. I understand that they are probably busy this time of the year, but a reply would have been nice as I have not heard back. Hopefully I will be able to leave a positive update. On March 16th, 2012, Pitcom changed the rating from neutral to positive and added the following:
Baker Creek sent a nice e-mail, asking if I would like replacements, substitutes or a refund. I selected some replacements and substitutes for the problem packs. I am very pleased with the customer service and the outcome concerning my problem packs. On April 24th, 2012, Pitcom changed the rating from positive to neutral and added the following:
The more seeds I plant from Baker Creek, the more bad ones i find. The germination rates are pathetic on so many of the seeds they sent out this year that it is a disgrace. Perhaps instead of trying to get people to buy your magazines, books, and other items, you should concentrate on providing quality seed first. If Baker Creek is using satellite farms and other growers for their seed, then your company needs to institute a better system for quality control. I have lost count of how many different varieties I have planted of your seeds this year, but it is at least over 70, yes Seventy, different varieties. 15 of those seed packs either did not germinate, or have horrible germination rates. I just finished planting all of my melons and squash which is why I am writing this review today. Charentais Melon 0%, Sikkim Cucumber 0%, Mexican Sour Gherkin, Musquee de Provence, Spaghetti Squash, Blue Hubbard and the Thai Golden had lousy rates below 20%. Yet the other dozen melons I have from your company germinated at better than 90%. Thanks for the replacements you sent earlier, but seriously, how many times should a customer have to contact you about bad seed? I hate leaving a less than positive review, but bad seeds are a serious problem in my opinion. On Apr 24, 2012, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
"On Mar 15, 2012 8:28 AM, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
We apologize for the delay in answering your email. We would be happy to work with you to either replace the low germination seed or refund you for those packets. An email has been sent to you at this time."
On Mar 10, 2012, SPIDERPAPA Cambridge Springs, PA wrote:
I ordered seeds from Baker Creek, their catalog and website promised that the seeds would be shipped in 4 to 5 days. I figured they meant after the check cleared the bank. 3 weeks after check cleared I still hadn't heard anything from them, so I called. First guy I talked with had trouble finding me in their system. When he did, he said he would look into the problem and call me back quickly. One and half hours later I called them again. Got a lady this time. She informed me that they had been having trouble with the Post Office delivering their products. She then said she would connect me with the first guy I spoke with. I ended up being sent to another lady. She was able to find me in their system immediately.? She told me they had been having trouble getting orders filled.? She then told me the first guy I spoke with had instructed that the order be re-picked and re-shipped. 20 minutes later the first guy finally called back. He said the order was being re-picked and a supervisor was having the order shipped by priorty mail. The end result of these confusing and conflicting excuses was, they were out of one item. On their website the out of stock notification wasn't this on this item at the time I placed the order or when the check cleared. They did include a refund with the order, as a result of this I'll try them one more time next year, but will monitor things much closer. Now I will need to find the missing seeds from one of their competors.
On Jan 5, 2012, jimwatershed Saint Augustine, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
Nice enough botano-erotic catalog (disclaimer: more and more propaganda every year for those politically averse), and I do look forward to getting it every year. But I don't get a harvest from that, so that's a neutral. Last year, seeds came quickly enough, with email updates along the way. So they get a positive for that. Germination rates were quite variable, some nearly 100%, some closer to 10%. So that's a neutral, trending negative, and yes, I get it that this is heirloom seed from all-natural and earth-friendly growers from around the world and that's the beauty of heirloom gardens (to the right beholder). As far as what I got, not everything fit the description in the catalog at maturity (squash and tomatoes particularly) and that makes me wonder if those varieties were just highly variable, or if they were the wrong seeds in the packet, or those varieties were not suited for a Florida climate, or if I just succumbed to the glitzy catalog. So I'll call that a neutral, or a negative that was my fault. Price is the main drawback for me, just very expensive and there are several other companies that have a good selection of heirloom/preservation seeds that are somewhat less expensive and which have given me better results. Overall, neutral review, or maybe positive if you've got plenty of budget for your garden and don't have high expectations or mind surprises, though I'd still recommend trying to look beyond the plant porn and glamorous descriptions when ordering.
Yes, a beautiful catalog, but how many trees were destroyed printing it?
Don't get me wrong, I love their seeds, which include some great old varieties, but I can do without all their political statements. They are constantly harping about "saving the environment" from the evil companies that develop GMOs and hybrids. But they have a great fondness for bringing in seeds from all over the world without any assurances that some of these varieties won't escape cultivation and become our next nightmare, destroying our native flora.
To me they are hypocrits, and are just playing "green" and environmentally conscious because that is the trendy thing to do, while they think nothing of printing huge paper catalogs and importing potentially dangerous plants.
On Mar 12, 2011, StacyP9 somewherein, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:
Posted on March 12, 2011, updated March 12, 2011
Nice catalog, though the religious references are annoying and seem to ignore the diversity of this sites consumers. BC supplies nicely packaged, fairly priced seeds that had excellent germination rates for me, even two years later. Unfortunately, two different varieties of the tomatoes that I ordered were incorrectly packaged. It is extremely frustrating to raise up what you think is a beautiful Chocolate Cherry, only to find yourself with a spitter.
I received some Baker Creek Heirloom seeds as a gift last year. I planted the lemon summer squash seeds in late July. Our growning season is short, but I harvested over a dozen squash in September before our first frost. The squash does look very much like a lemon but taste like any summer squash! Neighbors commented on how pretty the squash was. I plan to grow this one every year.
On Jan 11, 2011, flowers4birds Chilton, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:
I tried ordering from Baker Creek last year for the first time because of all their positive ratings, but I found that their seeds don't work for everyone, especially me. I was all enthused over growing heirloom varieties in my garden, but found they are not always suitable. All my heirloom tomatoes died of assorted blights and we ended up going to the Farmer's Market to buy tomatoes last summer because we got none from our two dozen assorted varieties. I'm going back to raising disease resistant hybrid tomatoes for the most part. Also Bakers had sold out on many of the seeds I wanted and made substituions that were not suitable for my zone 5a and the produce did not mature. So if you shop this company and early production is critical, do not allow substitutions. One variety of squash seed did not germinate at all. Other than those complaints I found the seed selections very interesting and fun to grow, but in the future, I will look for hierloom seed sources closer to my own zone.
I ordered for the first time this year from Baker Creek and I had mixed results. My squashes and radishes did well, but didn't have the same color quality as the photos in the catalog. I realize that the climate they are grown in can affect things, but... oh well.
I was very disappointed with the Black Garbanzo Beans. I had purchased other colors of garbanzo beans and all were planted on the same day. The others came relatively well, but the black ones didn't have a single sprout. I read up on them and quickly ordered another package. Still no luck with these either.
When I called the company about this and asked about their policies in regards to their germination testing, I didn't receive much information. I know from other problems in the past that other companies have laboratories on site for testing. Sending out seed that doesn't germ at all (even in a wet towel) is not good service.
On Sep 2, 2009, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
Sorry to hear about your problems with the Garbanzo's. We test all seeds to state and federal standards and I have not heard of any other problems with this seed, so I am not sure what is the problem, every once in a while a type of seed just won't sprout...
The Baker catalog is great and I look forward every year to recieving it. My children gave me a hundred dollar gift certificate for Christmas. Being overwhelmed by all the choices I sent an email to Baker asking them for feedback about what kinds of corn and tomatoes to order. I never got a response. I emailed to find status of my order again no response. I ended up ordering eighteen different tomatoes so in retrospect the feedback didnt end up being so important because I used the shotgun effect. It would have been nice to get a response. I ended up ordering the corn from Seed Savers who was more than happy to give me the feedback I was looking for. I decided to call and find out status of my order and had difficulty getting anyone on the phone. Eventually I got a gentleman on the phone named Randall who was very patient with me and gave me feedback on my order even telling me how to prepare certain seed for germination and what strains he thought were good choices. I sent along an email to Baker complimenting Randalls professionalism and how cool I thought he was. I got no response. It is my thought and hope that when I see how the seeds perform that I can revisit this site and change my neutral to a positive. Let me make clear that in the grand scheme of things this is not way up on the importance scale but I think it is important the company knows what is up . The company should give their client base an opportuinity to be able to order on line with a gift certificate. In the present configuration they dont give you that option. I had to fax the order. I will continue to do business with Baker but hope on the next go around they are more responsive to my questions and concerns. I look forward in anticipation to see how the seeds perform and hope it sways my review to a positive. I confirmed the email address and know I had it correct. I hope we can improve on our business relationship.
On Feb 19, 2009, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
Our mail server lost many emails last winter, but know seems to be working again, so sorry for the lack of responce, we reply to emails in a couple of days under normal conditions, and the gentleman you talked with answers many of them.
We also had a shortage of phone lines last season, but are working to get that fixed for the coming season!
If you have any other comments or suggestions please call us a 866-OLDSEED
I love their philosophy on seeds/growing, and I grew some veggies this year from their seed to great success.
But, I'm not interested anymore in reading left wing politics in their catalog or on their web site when I'm trying to decide which eggplant to order.
Is this what happens when 20-somethings start a company & think they know it all?
I'm not buying it anymore - literally.
(Plus, what's with the snarky attitudes from their customer service?)
On Aug 8, 2008, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
On Sep 16, 2008 10:02 PM, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. added:
Glad to hear our seeds did well for you, if you save seeds you should be able to have planty of your own seeds.
Thanks for letting us know how you feel, but we feel like we should still support the wisdom of our founding fathers and support food freedom. That is why we quote Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln and even Ronald Regan, So I dont feel we are all that left, but rather very indepentent!
No, we don't know it all, that is why we post quotes from great leaders from our past, the Bible and other texts.
I hope this does not sound snarky. Sorry about that!
Thanks again, but this is more than a business, it is a tool to spread old-fashioned ideals, like freedom, safe food and peace.
God Bless and I am sure you can find many great sources that are free of most or all quotes, I like Seed Savers, Sand Hill Preservation Center, Native Seed Search and others, So I hope you don't stop growing heirlooms just because you can't grow with us.
First the variety I mainly ordered from them for showed available on their site. They shipped my seeds and I had to figure out which they didn't send as they didn't mark or sent a note explaining what variety they left out. They sent two varieties marked as only 60% germination. I would of preferred to not of paid good money for that low of germination. I have never experienced less than 80% from other sources. When I inquired about the variety they didn't send I was informed that it was temporalily out and wouldn't be available for a week or so. And they don't send when they become available. I would of preferred an email or phone call. Not sure why they ask for these if they are not going to use them. I would of cancelled the order if I had known this variety was unavailable. I will think hard before I ever order again. My emails was answered by someone other than the owner who didn't seem real interested in my business. So far I haven't sowed the seeds so don't know how the rest will germinate.
On February 18th, 2007, elkwc36 added the following:
I have thought about this before responding. Yes the packs were marked and said over packed. They contained 35 to 4o seeds as I recall. Not as many as some of the packs that wasn't marked low germination. The other problem is I have to start almost twice as many seeds to get the number of plants I want. If everyone vendor sent me seeds like that I would be starting a thousand seeds instead of 5 to 6 hundred. This requires additional room an equipment. I would of sent them back if the initial response had been different. I didn't feel I had that option till you posted it here. I had already took the seeds out of your packs and catalogged them and put them in mine so they would be easier for me to use and keep in order.
Due to the fact you state you don't call due to the cost I won't call as I would hate to call on a toll free number and be the cause of you going broke. After having been in business it don't make sense to make that statement about a few dollar call at most compared to a fifty dollar or more order. And I ordered around $600.00 total this year from vendors so in the future your order may of been more if the service had been better. Also why after I received this order( shipping time to KS of 3 days) was the seeds available? And I understand others have experienced the same. I was told the seeds were available after I received my order and your site never showed they weren't. So makes me wonder if they were unavailable or if that is a way to get a customer to place a second order later so maybe he will order more? Not accusing just a thought that comes to mind when it seems to be happening to so many. And I had read you were a small company with no hired employees but the names that responded to me weren't yours. At least I say the bookkeeping must not be current. Thanks for your time answering this email. I would definately suggest to any possible customer to call and make sure all varieties is available before ordering. On Jan 27, 2007, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
On Feb 7, 2007 5:05 PM, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. added:
I am sorry we did not have the variety that you ordered, also I re-addressed the issue of sending a note to let customers know what were out of stock on, which we have been doing but must have some how miss yours.
In regards to germination, all our seeds follow federal guidelines, depending on the type of seed, if 60% is under standard, we -over- pack to more than make up the difference, and you will see a statement on the backs of such packets.
If you wan't to cancel the order you can return it for full purchase price, I am sorry we were not able to call you about your packet, we ask for the phone in case of incorrect address, etc. But we can not call about each variety, do to phone costs, etc.
I am sorry you feel like we were not interested in you, It is just a really busy time for us seedsmen, and at times we are not able to go into detail like we would like,
If you would like to discuss this more please feel free to call me toll-free 1-866-OLD-SEED
On Feb 20, 2007 12:42 PM, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. added:
Until we have your name and order number and item your missing, I simply can't answer your questions, because I don't know who you are, or what you ordered, so please go ahead and call."
On Nov 1, 2005, Zeppy Shenandoah Valley, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:
Gorgeous photographs and delicious description in the catalog, but it doesn't hold a candle to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for actually useful planting/culture information (and less slick presentation). I don't mind any preachiness, as I'm the choir, in this case.
My order was correct and timely except for the tomato seeds I was most looking forward to starting. I received the wrong variety. BC acknowledged my email about this (but they didn't seem to get the photos I sent), and offered to reimburse me, but they didn't seem to think the mistake was on their end. Just one of those situations where you're left feeling like the company doesn't really care if they get your business or not.
On Jun 30, 2005, ocimum_nate American Fork, UT (Zone 5a) wrote:
I enjoy looking at all of the asian heirloom varieties in this catalog. I do however feel that there is too much preaching about gmo's. For his age, Gere acts like some sort of hippy freak. Some of the ideas espoused by this company are blatent exagerations in regard to GMO's.
Good selection, and decent but certainly not great germination rates.
On Jun 30, 2005, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
On Oct 24, 2005 11:03 PM, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. added:
Yep, thats me... :)
A hippy freak... (I am a vegan too!) and that ain't the half.
Scarry ain't it.
I just feel like "MOST" other farmers about GMO's.
(Corporate farms are a minority!)
Our germination rates all have to pass state and federal rates, which are 75% or above on most seeds.
On Apr 11, 2005, PurplePansies Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:
Baker creek offers a nice selection of seeds - primarily vegetable / fruit at "average" prices (not cheap but not more expensive than many online companies.....) ......Their seeds arrived in good condition I got a generous quantity of tomato seed and a good quantity of melon seed..... However the seeds took a little while longer than some companies to arrive and when I emailed asking if they had been shipped I received no response.... My biggest problem was my petunias though..... which were 2.00 a pack and I received a very small amount of tiny seeds.... I will have to sow VERY carefully so I don't waste any.... therefore I am giving this company a neutral.... Not the best, had a few complaints but it is generally safe to order from them... and i..e. not the worst.....
On Apr 11, 2005, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. responded with:
On May 26, 2005 9:40 AM, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. added:
I am not sure why you never received a responce, as you notice from most the others our responce rate is very high.
Some time spam filters at one end or the other block emails...
Yes, petunia seeds are tiny, the small amount you receive is what we offer in the catalog. some flower seeds look like dust, we would love to make them grow larger, but that is just not possible.
On Oct 31, 2004, winter_unfazed Rural Webster County, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:
In October 2003 I ordered some Canadian spined cucumber seeds (variety 'Morden Early') and selected that if the company run out of seeds, a credit slip be sent. Having just moved directly from the bricks to the sticks, I knew as much about gardening as an African Bushman knows about the northern lights. Well, anyway, the company sent a packet of 'Early Fortune' instead. The rep said that the lids got switched on the farm and they were out of the Mordens. So they sent the slip anyway and allowed me to keep the ''erroneous'' seeds. The seeds took a very loooooooooooooooong time to germinate but grew well, and the cukes were good. So in August 2004 I redeemed the slip to get seeds for my winter garden, and one of them was kohlrabi. I chose white assuming that it would be easier to clean, but later read that purple is hardier. The catalog said that fhey were the same(?) . Also their gardening guide says to plant everything in spring. I have had success with radishes only in the fall. In spring they just run to seed--that's good for a seed company, I guess.
Although their catalog online is very attractive and well written, they are sold out of many varieties they list, and CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCKS!
They will not answer e-mails, they will not say when or if they ever expect to get seed in for many of the varieties.
If they have the seed in stock, they are probably okay to do business with, but they appear to be more flash than substance, and their exceedingly poor customer service is a warning...
On October 21st, 2002, madster changed the rating from negative to neutral and added the following:
Although it took a couple of weeks for a reply, I must commend Jere and BAKER CREEK SEED for taking the time and effort to give me a response regarding a seed ordering problem that prompted my previous Negative rating.
Jere most graciously e-mailed me, and explained that part of the reason for the delay was that they were closed in September, because they were harvesting seeds. This is information that should be posted on their website to minimize confusion and dissatisfaction, but regardless, it was information that I was most appreciative to recieve, and also explained the large amount of "SOLD OUT" listings on their site.
Because of the explanation given to me, and the professional and friendly manner in which it was done, I would like to add this message to my previous one, and change my rating to NEUTRAL, as I will reserve judgement at this time until I can complete an order with Baker Creek Seed in early 2003.
I was pleased with the germination rates, everything is coming along quite well. Baker Creek had a good offering of reasonably priced hard to find seeds which was great. Plus they included a free pack of seeds with my order, which was nice, too.
I do think that they need to work on their customer service skills though. My order took an exceedingly long time to arrive and when I contacted the company to inquire their responses were terse and didn't even address my concerns.